On a trip of a lifetime to Seattle, you might want to start by enjoying the view while soaring in a seaplane.
“What an introduction to our city,” said Kaulani Robinson, public relations manager for Visit Seattle. “After flying off the water, every seat on the Seattle scenic flight tour allows for a spectacular view of our skyline, our waterfront, our professional sports stadiums and so much more.”
And after catching your breath with feet planted on the ground, now is the time to enjoy the Emerald City, famous for its outdoor wonders, urban attractions, food and wine.
Robinson, an outdoor enthusiast, describes her city this way: “Seattle is a utopia where a city and nature come together.”
The metropolitan city, the largest in the Pacific Northwest, is nestled beside the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges and enjoys views of not only the Pacific Ocean and the Puget Sound, but Lake Washington and Lake Union as well.
“Groups can take advantage of a variety of outdoor activities, whether their preference is skiing, boating, tubing, hiking, biking or whale-watching,” said Robinson.
When groups take a springtime scenic ferry ride to Friday Harbor on the San Juan Islands, they often catch glimpses of gray and orca whales. There’s also plenty of scenic beauty along the way — visitors will find an abundance of daffodils amidst pastures, beaches, waterfalls, farmers markets and artist communities around the area.
“A tour of the Olympic National Park and Forest is also an absolute must for this trip of a lifetime,” said Robinson. “It is essential to see the rain forests.”
The park includes the Quinault Rainforest, one of only three temperate rain forests in the Western Hemisphere. There, visitors are awed by the largest Sitka spruce tree in the world. The Hoh Rain Forest has an abundance of 500-year-old trees, and timber grows faster there than anywhere else in the world.
Bucket list experiences also include a trip to nearby Mount Rainier, according to Robinson.
“This active volcano, peaking through the clouds at over 14,000 feet above sea level, is a place to hike or just enjoy the view of wildflower meadows and forests,” she said.
Perhaps the best way to introduce a group to the celebrated Pacific Northwest is to start in the Museum of History and Industry. “This history museum, located on Lake Union, celebrates the area with a phenomenal and fascinating collection of artifacts, photographs and more,” said Robinson.
The Smithsonian-affiliated museum offers a collection of nearly 4 million items, with only 2 percent on display at any one time. Just a few highlights are Boeing’s first commercial plane, an 1856 American flag sewn by women during the Battle of Seattle and the Rainier Brewing Company’s 12-foot-tall neon sign.
In the heart of downtown, the Seattle Center Campus is a 74-acre park, arts and entertainment center originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair.
“This is where Space Needle, our most iconic landmark; the EMP Museum; the Chihuly Garden and Glass; and so much more are located,” said Robinson.
The EMP Museum fits the bill for those boomers who remember the ’60s and ’70s, cherished decades. This 140,000-square-foot building designed by Frank Gehry houses multiple galleries and Sky Church, which features one of the largest indoor LED screens in the world. Exhibits cover pop culture, horror cinema, video games and costumes from screen to stage.
“Rock-’n’-roll lovers will love the galleries that include unbelievable hands-on experiences, rare artifacts from legends and a guitar sculpture that you have to see to believe,” Robinson said.
Described by many as the No. 1 sight to see in Seattle and as “absolutely gorgeous” by Robinson, the Chihuly Garden and Glass is all about Dale Chihuly, an American glass sculptor whose large-scale works of art awe visitors in eight large rooms, a glass house and a garden.
“This is extreme,” said Robinson. “You can’t believe this is blown-glass sculpture.”
Your groups might just get the view of a lifetime while riding the Seattle Great Wheel on Pier 57, the largest observation wheel on the West Coast. Open year-round, the wheel has 42 enclosed gondolas that seat eight people apiece and extends over the pier and Elliott Bay.